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Hose Reel Assembly - Patent 8006928

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United States Patent: 8006928


































 
( 1 of 1 )



	United States Patent 
	8,006,928



 Caamano
,   et al.

 
August 30, 2011




Hose reel assembly



Abstract

 A reel assembly comprises a drum configured to rotate about a drum axis.
     The drum is configured to receive a linear material wrapped around a
     spool surface thereof as the drum rotates about the drum axis. A housing
     substantially encloses the drum, wherein a portion of the housing defines
     an aperture configured to receive the linear material therethrough. A
     reciprocating mechanism connects to the drum and reciprocatingly rotates
     the drum relative to the shell about a generally vertical axis as the
     drum rotates about the drum axis.


 
Inventors: 
 Caamano; Ray (Gilroy, CA), Gerard; Christian Okonsky (Austin, TX), Caputo; Daniel Francis (Lakeway, TX) 
 Assignee:


Great Stuff, Inc.
 (Austin, 
TX)





Appl. No.:
                    
12/901,800
  
Filed:
                      
  October 11, 2010

 Related U.S. Patent Documents   
 

Application NumberFiling DatePatent NumberIssue Date
 12269734Nov., 20087810751
 11420164May., 20097533843
 60685637May., 2005
 60772455Feb., 2006
 

 



  
Current U.S. Class:
  242/397.3  ; 137/355.16; 242/399.2
  
Current International Class: 
  B65H 57/00&nbsp(20060101)
  
Field of Search: 
  
  






























 242/389,390,390.1,390.2,390.8,390.9,397,397.2,397.3,397.5,398,399,399.1,399.2,403,277,280,281,483.5,484,484.1 74/54,55,89.14,425 137/355.16,355.19,355.2,355.21,355.26,355.27
  

References Cited  [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents
 
 
 
2494003
January 1950
Russ

3115312
December 1963
Rees

3804350
April 1974
Williams

3804370
April 1974
Woodard

3876045
April 1975
Knarreborg

3889896
June 1975
O'Hara

3997128
December 1976
Hara et al.

4014422
March 1977
Morishita

4065065
December 1977
Kallenborn

4456199
June 1984
Seibert

4513772
April 1985
Fisher

4570875
February 1986
Buluschek

5109882
May 1992
Eley

5179972
January 1993
Eley

5209420
May 1993
Simmons et al.

5330121
July 1994
Eley

5373925
December 1994
Handford et al.

5385314
January 1995
Hughes

5462298
October 1995
Bodine

6015110
January 2000
Lai

6065708
May 2000
Matsubara

6279848
August 2001
Mead

6422500
July 2002
Mead

6981670
January 2006
Harrington

7533843
May 2009
Caamano et al.

7810751
October 2010
Caamano et al.

2001/0045484
November 2001
Mead



 Foreign Patent Documents
 
 
 
855578
Nov., 1970
CA

100 23 448
Nov., 2001
DE

0 043 368
Jan., 1982
EP

2 826 352
Jun., 2001
FR

1018112
Jan., 1966
GB

02178186
Jul., 1990
JP

03111376
May., 1991
JP

6-100247
Apr., 1994
JP

WO 91/13020
Sep., 1991
WO



   
 Other References 

Mexican Office Action of Oct. 15, 2009, application No. MX/a/2007/014683. cited by other
.
New Zealand Examination Report of Aug. 18, 2009, application No. 564883. cited by other
.
EPO Examination Report of Dec. 8, 2008, application No. 06 770 833.9-1256. cited by other
.
EPO Examination Report of Jan. 25, 2010, application No. 06 770 833.9-1256. cited by other
.
Summons to Attend Oral Proceedings of Jul. 27, 2010, application No. 06 770 833.9-1256. cited by other
.
Machine translation of Lagnel FR 2 826 352 obtained from http://babelfish.yahoo.com patent published on Jun. 21, 2001. cited by other
.
International Search Report for corresponding PCT Application No. PCT/US2006/019726, mailed Dec. 15, 2006. cited by other
.
Examiner's first report on Australian patent application No. 2006252833 dated Aug. 17, 2010. cited by other.  
  Primary Examiner: Dondero; William E


  Attorney, Agent or Firm: Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP



Parent Case Text



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS


 This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No.
     12/269,734, filed Nov. 12, 2008, (now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 7,810,751
     to Caamano et al.) which is a continuation of U.S. patent application
     Ser. No. 11/420,164, filed May 24, 2006 (now issued as U.S. Pat. No.
     7,533,843 to Caamano et al.), which claims the benefit of U.S.
     Provisional Patent Application No. 60/685,637 filed May 27, 2005, and
     U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/772,455 filed Feb. 10, 2006.
     The entire contents of all four of said priority applications (to which
     the present application claims priority) are incorporated herein by
     reference and should be considered a part of this specification.

Claims  

What is claimed is:

 1.  A hose reel assembly comprising: a spool member configured to rotate about a first axis to wind a hose onto the spool member or unwind a hose from the spool member, the
spool member also configured to rotate about a second axis that is substantially perpendicular to the first axis;  a hollow conduit assembly having an end positioned substantially along the second axis and being configured to be coupled with a fluid
source so that fluid may flow from the fluid source into the conduit assembly, the conduit assembly extending to a location substantially along the first axis, the conduit assembly extending from said location to an interior of the spool member;  a
housing substantially enclosing the spool member, a portion of the housing defining an aperture configured to receive a hose therethrough for spooling the hose onto the spool member;  a hose attachment fitting on the spool member, the hose attachment
fitting configured to be coupled with a hose that may be wound upon the spool member, the conduit assembly being connected to the hose attachment fitting at an interior of the spool member so that fluid may flow from the conduit assembly through the hose
attachment fitting into a hose coupled to the hose attachment fitting;  and a first ring centered about the second axis;  a support frame coupled to the conduit assembly, the support frame supported by the first ring such that the spool member, the
conduit assembly, and the support frame rotate together, relative to the first ring, about the second axis.


 2.  The hose reel assembly of claim 1, wherein the first ring is secured to the housing.


 3.  The hose reel assembly of claim 2, wherein the housing comprises an upper shell portion, the first ring secured to the upper shell portion.


 4.  The hose reel assembly of claim 3, wherein the housing further comprises a lower shell portion, wherein the first ring, upper shell portion, spool member, conduit assembly, and support frame rotate together about the second axis with respect
to the lower shell portion.


 5.  The hose reel assembly of claim 4, further comprising a second ring centered about the second axis and secured to the lower shell portion, the first ring and the second ring configured to rotate with respect to each other about the second
axis.


 6.  The hose reel assembly of claim 5, further comprising bearings disposed between the first ring and the second ring, to facilitate said rotation of the first and second rings with respect to each other about the second axis.


 7.  The hose reel assembly of claim 1, wherein the support frame comprises an outer edge portion supported by the first ring.


 8.  The hose reel assembly of claim 1, wherein the conduit assembly comprises a hollow conduit member having a first end at said location along the first axis, the conduit member also having a second end defining said end of the conduit assembly
that is configured to be coupled to a fluid source.


 9.  The hose reel assembly of claim 8, wherein the conduit assembly further comprises: a conduit assembly fitting coupled to the first end of the conduit member;  and a hollow shaft coupled to the conduit assembly fitting, the shaft extending
along the first axis toward the interior of the spool member;  wherein the conduit assembly fitting is configured to permit fluid within the conduit member to flow through the conduit assembly fitting and into the shaft.


 10.  The hose reel assembly of claim 1, further comprising: a platform between the spool member and the first ring, such that the support frame and platform are on opposite ends of the spool member;  a battery supported on the platform;  and an
electric motor coupled with respect to the support frame, the motor adapted to produce rotation of the spool member about the first axis;  wherein the battery is connected to electrically power the motor.


 11.  The hose reel assembly of claim 1, further comprising a motor coupled to the support frame and configured to produce rotation of the spool member about the first axis.


 12.  The hose reel assembly of claim 1, wherein the housing is substantially spherical, and the conduit assembly has a curved section extending generally along an interior surface of the housing.


 13.  The hose reel assembly of claim 1, wherein the conduit assembly extends through a fluid inlet aperture of the housing.


 14.  The hose reel assembly of claim 1, further comprising a hose coupled with the hose attachment fitting.  Description  

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


 1.  Field of the Invention


 This invention relates generally to reels for spooling linear material and, in particular, to a reel including an improved reciprocating mechanism for distributing linear material across a rotating reel drum.


 2.  Description of the Related Art


 Reels for spooling linear material, such as a hose or wire, onto a rotating drum have incorporated reciprocating motion of a guide through which the linear material passes, to advantageously cause the linear material to be wrapped substantially
uniformly around most of the surface area of the drum.


 Several methods have been utilized in the past for achieving such reciprocating motion.  One common approach is to use a rotating reversing screw which causes a guide to translate back and forth in front of a rotating drum.  For example, such an
approach is shown in U.S.  Pat.  No. 2,494,003 to Russ.  However, such reversing screws tend to wear out quickly, degrading reel performance and necessitating frequent replacement.  Further, such reversing screws are bulky and increase the size of the
reel assembly.


 Another approach for producing reciprocating motion of the guide is to use a motor to control a rotating screw upon which the guide translates.  In this class of reels, the motor reverses the direction of rotation of the screw whenever the guide
reaches an end of the screw.  Unfortunately, the repeated reversing of the motor increases the spooling time and causes the motor to wear down sooner.  Other reels have incorporated significantly more complicated gear mechanisms for achieving the
reciprocating motion.


 Many reel constructions include exposed moving parts, such as the reel drum, guide, and motor.  Over time, such moving parts can become damaged due to exposure.  For example, an outdoor reel is exposed to sunlight and rain.  Such exposure can
cause the moving parts of the reel to wear more rapidly, resulting in reduced performance quality.


 Thus, there is a need for a compact reel assembly having a reel with an improved reciprocating mechanism for efficiently distributing linear material across the reel drum.


SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


 Accordingly, it is a principle object and advantage of the present invention to overcome some or all of these limitations and to provide an improved reel incorporating a reciprocating mechanism.


 In accordance with one embodiment, a reciprocating mechanism is provided, comprising an element adapted to rotate about a first axis and a worm gear extending along the first axis and coupled with respect to the element.  The reciprocating
mechanism also comprises a driven gear meshingly engaged with the worm gear, the driven gear configured to rotate about a driven gear axis.  A lever is coupled to and configured to rotate along with the driven gear about the driven gear axis, the lever
having an elongated slot.  A guide member defines an encircling slot in a plane generally parallel to a plane within which the lever rotates.  An elongate member has a portion extending completely or partially through, and adapted to move along, the
elongated slot of the lever, the elongate member portion also extending completely or partially through, and adapted to move along, the encircling slot of the guide member.  The elongate member is pivotably secured to a frame or housing such that the
elongate member is configured to pivot about an axis generally perpendicular to the plane of the encircling slot.  Rotation of the element about the first axis produces rotation of the worm gear about the first axis, the rotation of the worm gear
producing rotation of the driven gear and the lever about the driven gear axis, the rotation of the lever guiding the portion of the elongate member along the encircling slot in order to reciprocatingly pivot the element relative to the frame or housing
about a second axis generally transverse to the first axis.


 In accordance with another embodiment, a reel assembly is provided.  The reel assembly comprises a drum configured to rotate about a drum axis and to receive a linear material being wrapped around a spool surface of the drum as the drum rotates
about the drum axis and a housing substantially enclosing the drum, a portion of the housing defining an aperture configured to receive the linear material therethrough.  The reel assembly also comprises a reciprocating mechanism, comprising a lever
operatively coupled with respect to the drum and defining an elongated slot.  A guide member is disposed proximal the lever, the guide member defining an encircling slot.  An elongate member has a portion extending completely or partially through the
elongated slot of the lever and extending completely or partially through the encircling slot of the guide member, the elongate member being pivotably coupled with respect to the housing.  The rotation of the drum about the drum axis rotates the lever,
which in turn guides the elongate member portion along the encircling slot so as to reciprocatingly rotate the drum relative to the housing about a reciprocation axis generally transverse with respect to the drum axis.


 In accordance with another embodiment, a reel assembly is provided, comprising a drum configured to rotate about a drum axis and to receive a linear material being wrapped around a spool surface of the drum as the drum rotates about the drum
axis and a housing substantially enclosing the drum, a portion of the housing defining an aperture configured to receive the linear material therethrough.  The reel assembly also comprises a reciprocating mechanism configured to produce relative
reciprocating rotation between the drum and the housing about an axis generally orthogonal to the drum axis and at a generally constant angular velocity between endpoints of the reciprocation for a given drum rotating speed about the drum axis.


 In accordance with still another embodiment, a method for spooling linear material is provided.  The method comprises rotating a drum about a first axis at a first speed, reciprocatingly rotating the drum about a second axis generally
perpendicular to the first axis at a generally constant second speed between endpoints of the reciprocation, and drawing linear material onto the drum, the linear material being spooled across a surface of the drum by the reciprocating rotation of the
drum.


 For purposes of summarizing the invention and the advantages achieved over the prior art, certain objects and advantages of the invention have been described herein above.  Of course, it is to be understood that not necessarily all such objects
or advantages may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment of the invention.  Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention may be embodied or carried out in a manner that achieves or optimizes one
advantage or group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other objects or advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.


 All of these aspects are intended to be within the scope of the invention herein disclosed.  These and other aspects of the present invention will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the appended claims and from the
following detailed description of the preferred embodiments having reference to the attached figures, the invention not being limited to any particular preferred embodiment(s) disclosed. 

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS


 These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will now be described in connection with a preferred embodiment of the invention, in reference to the accompanying drawings.  The illustrated embodiment, however, is
merely an example and is not intended to limit the invention.  The drawings include the following figures.


 FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a disassembled reel, including a housing, in accordance with one embodiment.


 FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of a drum assembly with reciprocating mechanism, in accordance with one embodiment disclosed herein.


 FIG. 2A is a schematic illustration of a gear reduction between a motor and a gear of the reciprocating mechanism shown in FIG. 2.


 FIG. 3 is a top and side perspective view of one embodiment of a drum assembly.


 FIG. 4 is bottom and side perspective view of the drum assembly in FIG. 3.


 FIG. 5 is a top partially cut-away perspective view of the reciprocating mechanism shown in FIG. 2.


 FIG. 6 is a bottom partially cut-away view of the reciprocating mechanism for a reel shown in FIG. 2.


 FIG. 7 is a bottom and side partially cut-away perspective view of reciprocating mechanism of FIG. 2.


 FIG. 8A is a top view of the drum assembly of FIG. 2 illustrating one position in the reciprocating rotation of the drum.


 FIG. 8B is a top view of the drum assembly of FIG. 2 illustrating another position in the reciprocating rotation of the drum.


 FIG. 8C is a top view of the drum assembly of FIG. 2 illustrating another position in the reciprocating rotation of the drum.


 FIG. 8D is a top view of the drum assembly of FIG. 2 illustrating another position in the reciprocating rotation of the drum.


 FIG. 8E is a top view of the drum assembly of FIG. 2 illustrating another position in the reciprocating rotation of the drum.


 FIG. 9A is a top and front perspective view of the reel assembly of FIG. 1 illustrating one position in the reciprocating rotation of the drum.


 FIG. 9B is a top and front perspective view of the reel assembly of FIG. 1 illustrating another position in the reciprocating rotation of the drum.


 FIG. 10 is a top partially cut-away perspective view of another embodiment of a reciprocating mechanism.


 For ease of illustration, some of the drawings do not show certain elements of the described apparatus.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT


 In the following detailed description, terms of orientation such as "top," "bottom," "upper," "lower," "front," "rear," and "end" are used herein to simplify the description of the context of the illustrated embodiments.  Likewise, terms of
sequence, such as "first" and "second," are used to simplify the description of the illustrated embodiments.  Because other orientations and sequences are possible, however, the present invention should not be limited to the illustrated orientation. 
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that other orientations of the various components described above are possible.


 FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of a reel assembly 100 substantially enclosing a drum assembly 10 in a housing.  In the illustrated embodiment, the housing includes an upper or top shell portion 22 and a lower or bottom shell portion 24. 
Additionally, the upper and lower shell portions 22, 24 have the shape of upper and lower domes 26, 28, respectively, so that the reel assembly 100 has a generally spherical shape.  However, the upper and lower shell portions 22, 24 can have any suitable
shape, such as cylindrical and aspherical.  As shown in FIG. 1, the upper shell portion 22 includes a guide member 30 with an aperture (not shown), which preferably guides a linear material, such as a water hose, into and out of the housing of the reel
assembly 100 as the linear material is wound onto or unwound from the drum assembly 10.  Additionally, the lower shell portion 24 is preferably supported by a plurality of legs 32.  However, other types of legs or support structures can be used.  In one
embodiment, a circumferential stand supports the lower shell portion 24 on a support surface.  Preferably, the lower shell portion 24 is movably supported with respect to a lower support surface, so that the reel assembly 100 is capable of moving along
the surface.  For example, the legs 32 or support structure can have rollers.


 As seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, the drum assembly 10 defines a first or drum axis X about which the drum rotates.  Additionally, a housing or second axis Y extends through the reel assembly 100.  In a preferred embodiment, the housing axis Y is
generally vertical and the drum axis X is generally horizontal, so that the housing axis Y is generally orthogonal to the drum axis X. Further details on reel assemblies can be found in U.S.  Pat.  No. 6,279,848, the entire contents of which are hereby
incorporated by reference and should be considered a part of this specification.


 FIGS. 2-7 illustrate one embodiment of a reciprocating mechanism 200 for a reel assembly.  In one embodiment, the reciprocating mechanism 200 can be used with the reel assembly 100 illustrated in FIG. 1.  The reciprocating mechanism 200
preferably includes a frame 210 comprising a top frame and a bottom frame.  In the illustrated embodiment, the top frame includes an upper ring 212 and the bottom frame includes a lower ring 214 (see FIG. 1).  In a preferred embodiment, the upper ring
212 is coextensive with and removably disposed on the lower ring 214.  In another embodiment, the upper ring 212 overlaps the lower ring 214.  The upper and lower rings 212, 214 are preferably fastened to the upper and lower shell portions 22, 24,
respectively, via any suitable method.  In one embodiment, the shell portions 22, 24 can be fastened to the rings 212, 214, respectively, using bolts or screws.  In another embodiment, the shell portions 22, 24 can be clamped, welded, or adhesively
secured to the rings 212, 214.


 In a preferred embodiment, the upper ring 212 can rotate relative to the lower ring 214.  For example, bearings 213, as shown in FIG. 1, can be disposed between the upper and lower rings 212, 214.  Preferably, the rings 212, 214 are sized to
enclose a drum assembly 220, which consists of first and second endplates 222, 224 and a drum 226 disposed between the endplates 222, 224.  As shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, a ring gear 230 is preferably attached to the first endplate 222.


 The ring gear 230 is coupled to a shaft 232, which preferably extends into a hollow portion 228 of the drum 226 and rotatingly couples to a shaft support 234 disposed inside the hollow portion 228 (see FIG. 3).  In one preferred embodiment, the
shaft support 234 is disposed generally at the center of the upper ring 212.  In another embodiment, the shaft support 234 can be offset from the center of the upper ring 212.  Preferably, the shaft support 234 allows the shaft 232 to rotate freely
therein.  For example, in one embodiment, the shaft 232 can couple to the shaft support 234 via a bearing (not shown) disposed therein.  As explained more fully below, the shaft 232 is preferably hollow so as to convey water.  Additionally, the
connection between the shaft 232 and the shaft support 234 preferably inhibits the leakage of fluid therebetween, as further discussed below.  For example, in one embodiment, the connection between the shaft 232 and the shaft 234 includes a substantially
water-tight seal.


 The shaft 232 also connects to a fitting 236.  The fitting 236 couples to a conduit member 262 disposed within the lower shell portion 24 and disposed below the lower ring 214.  In the illustrated embodiment, the conduit member 262 is curved and
has a first end 264 that connects to the fitting 236, which in turn connects to the shaft 232.  The conduit member 262 has a second end 266 disposed generally along an axis Y2 extending generally perpendicular to the upper and lower rings 212, 214.  In
one embodiment, the shell axis Y and the axis Y2 are coaxial.  Preferably, the second end 266 extends through an aperture (not shown) in the lower shell portion 24.  In one preferred embodiment, the fitting 236 is not coupled to the upper ring 212. 
Further description of the fitting 236 and the conduit member 262 is provided below.


 As shown in FIG. 5, an upper ring support member 238 extends from a surface 240 of the upper ring 212.  In the illustrated embodiment, the upper ring support member 238 defines a slot 239 therein.  Preferably, the slot 239 extends along the
length of the support member 238 and is sized to slidingly receive one end 245a of a support frame 245 coupled to the conduit member 262.  As shown in FIG. 5, the support frame 245 has a horizontal portion and a vertical portion, and the end 245a extends
from the horizontal portion of the support frame 245.  In one embodiment, at least one bearing (not shown) is disposed in the slot 239 to facilitate the sliding of the end 245a of the support frame 245 relative to the slot 239.  However, other suitable
methods for facilitating the sliding of the support frame 245 in the slot 239, such as, for example, applying a lubricant to at least one of the slot 239 and the end 245a of the support frame 245.


 Preferably, the shaft 232 includes a worm gear section 242, which extends along at least a portion of the shaft 232.  In one embodiment, the worm gear section 242 extends along substantially the entire length of the shaft 232.  The shaft 232 is
preferably integrally formed with the worm gear section 242.  In another embodiment, the shaft 232 is removably coupled to the worm gear section 242 via, for example, a spline connection.


 As shown in FIGS. 2, 6 and 7, the worm gear section 242 preferably meshingly engages a top or driven gear 244 mounted on and below the support frame 245.  As used herein, the "engagement" of two gears means that the teeth of one gear are engaged
with the teeth of the other gear.  The top gear 244 is in turn coupled to a lever 246 (see FIG. 5), for example, via a pin 246a (see FIG. 8B) that extends along an axis of rotation of the top gear 244.  As shown in FIG. 5, the lever 246 defines an
elongated slot 247 therein.  In a preferred embodiment, the top gear 244 and lever 246 are lockingly coupled, so that rotation of the top gear 244 results in rotation of the lever 246.  In another embodiment, the top gear 244 and lever 246 are integrally
formed.  The lever 246 is preferably coupled to an elongate member 248, so that a first end or portion 248a of the elongate member 248 extends through and is adapted to slidingly move along the slot 247, while a second end or portion 248b of the elongate
member 248 is pivotably secured to the support member 238.  In one embodiment, the first end 248a of the elongate member 248 extends completely through the slot 247 of the lever 246 and at least partially or completely through the slot 252 of the guide
member 250 (described below).  In another embodiment, the lever 246 is below the guide member 250, and the first end 248a of the elongate member 248 extends completely through the slot 252 and at least partially or completely through the slot 247 of the
lever 246.


 As best shown in FIG. 5, a guide member or track 250 is disposed adjacent the lever 246, so that the guide member 250 extends along a plane generally parallel to a plane within which the lever 246 rotates.  In the illustrated embodiment, the
guide member 250 defines an encircling slot 252.  In the illustrated embodiment, the encircling slot 252 extends only partially through the guide member 250, so as to define a groove or recess.  In another embodiment, the encircling slot 252 can extend
completely through the guide member 250.  In the illustrated embodiment, the first end 248a of the elongate member 248 extends partially through and is adapted to move along the encircling slot 252 of the guide member 250, so that the elongate member 248
pivots about an axis generally perpendicular to the plane of the encircling slot 252.  In another embodiment, the first end 248a of the elongate member 248 can extend completely through the encircling slot 252 of the guide member 150.  In the illustrated
embodiment, the guide member 250 is disposed between the support frame 245 and the lever 246 and is preferably secured to the support frame 245.  However, in another embodiment, the lever 246 can be positioned between the support frame 245 and the guide
member 250.  As used herein, encircling means surrounding, but is not necessarily limited to a circular surrounding.  In the illustrated embodiment, the guide member 250 is shaped somewhat in the form of a "D" (see FIG. 8A).  However, the guide member
250 can have other suitable shapes, such as circular, oval, triangular and trapezoidal.


 As shown, for example in FIG. 2, the reciprocating mechanism 200 includes a motor 254 mounted to the support frame 245.  In the illustrated embodiment, the motor 254 is disposed below the lower ring 214 and is housed in the lower shell portion
24.  Preferably, the motor 254 is an electric motor.  The motor 254 preferably operatively connects to the ring gear 230 via a drive gear 256.  For example, the motor 254 can, through a gear reduction comprising multiple gears, drive the drive gear 256,
which can operatively drive the ring gear 230 at a desired speed.  One example of a gear reduction is shown in FIG. 2A, which includes a motor gear 254a that meshingly engages and drives the drive gear 256.  In the illustrated embodiment, another gear
257 (also shown in FIG. 6), which is preferably co-axial with the drive gear 256, meshingly engages and drives the ring gear 230.  However, the gear reduction can include any number of gears and have other configurations for operatively coupling the
motor 254 to the ring gear 230.  Additionally, any desired gear ratio can be used.  In one embodiment, the gear reduction has a gear ratio of 2 to 1.  In another embodiment, the gear reduction has a gear ratio of 4 to 1.  In still another embodiment, the
gear reduction has a gear ratio of between about 2 to 1 and about 25 to 1.  One example of a gear reduction between the motor 254 and the ring gear 230 is schematically shown in FIG. 2A.


 The reel 100 can also employ an electronic motor controller and associated electronic componentry for controlling the speed and direction of the motor 254.  For example, while spooling the linear material 268 (see FIG. 9A) onto the drum 226, a
motor-controller can be employed to vary the motor speed based upon the length of unwound linear material 268.  It will be appreciated that if the motor speed is constant, the inwardly pulled linear material 268 tends to move increasingly faster due to
the increasing diameter of the spool itself.  A motor-controller can adjust the motor speed to more safely control the motion of the linear material 268 during spooling.  Also, a motor-controller can be used to slow or stop the motor 254 just before the
linear material 268 becomes completely spooled onto the drum 226.  Otherwise, the linear material 268 would get pulled into the housing or, if there is an object at the end of the linear material 268 (e.g., a nozzle), the object may whip against or
otherwise impact the housing or a person near the housing.  In addition, a motor-controller can even be used to assist the user during unspooling of the linear material 268 (i.e., powered unspooling).  One example of a motor-controller for a reel is
disclosed in U.S.  Pat.  No. 7,350,736 to Caamano et al., entitled Systems and Methods for Controlling Spooling of Linear Material, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference and should be considered a part of this specification. 
Also, the motor 254 and/or motor-controller can be operated via a remote control.  An exemplary remote control system for a motorized reel is disclosed in U.S.  Pat.  No. 7,503,338 to Harrington et al., the entire contents of which are hereby
incorporated by reference and should be considered a part of this specification.  In a preferred embodiment, a remote control is engaged on the spooled linear material 268 at or near its outward end.  The remote control can send signals wirelessly (e.g.,
via radio frequency signals) or through a wire within the linear material.


 As shown in FIGS. 3-4, the reciprocating mechanism 200 also has a platform 258 that extends between the shaft support 234 and the edge of the upper ring 212.  As shown in FIG. 8A, the platform 258 is disposed generally opposite the upper ring
support member 238.  The platform 258 preferably extends into the hollow portion 228 of the drum 226.  In one embodiment, the platform 258 can support a battery 259, as shown in FIG. 3, thereon so that the battery 259 is disposed between the second
endplate 224 and the upper ring 212.  Preferably, the battery 259 provides power to the motor 254.  Details of one suitable battery for use with the reciprocating mechanism 200 can be found in U.S.  Pat.  No. 7,320,843 to Harrington, entitled Battery
Assembly With Shielded Terminals, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference and should be considered a part of this specification.


 As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the platform 258 preferably supports the shaft support 234 thereon.  In the illustrated embodiment, a pin 234a of the shaft support 234 pivotably extends through an opening 258a of the platform 258, permitting the
shaft support 234 to rotate with respect to the platform 258 about a vertical axis extending through the opening 258a.  This pivot connection advantageously allows the reciprocating mechanism 200 to reciprocatingly rotate the drum 226 about the shell
axis Y, as further discussed below.


 As discussed above, the fitting 236 couples to the conduit member 262.  In one embodiment, the second end 266 of the conduit 262 is configured to removably attach to a water hose (not shown).  For example, the second end 266 can have a threaded
surface for threaded engagement with a corresponding thread on the hose (e.g., a standard hose fitting).  In another embodiment, the second end 266 can have a quick-disconnect portion configured to removably engage a corresponding quick-disconnect
portion on the hose.  Other mechanisms for connecting the hose and the conduit 262 are also possible.  Preferably, water provided through the hose flows through the conduit 262 and through the fitting 236 and shaft 232 into the shaft support 234.  In one
preferred embodiment, the shaft support 234 communicates, for example, via a second conduit (not shown), with a second fitting 268 (see FIGS. 2 and 8A) disposed on the surface of the drum 226.  In this manner, water can be supplied to a hose that has
been spooled on the drum 226 and has been removably fastened to the second fitting 268.  Any suitable mechanism for removably fastening the hose and the second fitting 268 can be used, such as a threaded engagement or a quick-disconnect connection. 
Further details on such an arrangement is shown, for example, in U.S.  Pat.  No. 6,981,670 to Harrington, entitled Reel Having Apparatus for Improved Connection of Linear Material, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference and
should be considered a part of this specification.


 The rings 212, 214 and gears 230, 242, 244, 256 of the reciprocating mechanism 200 are preferably made of a strong material resistant to breaking.  In one embodiment, the rings 212, 214 and gears, 230, 242, 244, 256 can be made of a metal or
metal alloy, such as stainless steel and aluminum.  However, other materials can also be used.  In another embodiment, the rings 212, 214 and gears 230, 242, 244, 256 of the reciprocating mechanism 200 can be made of a hard plastic.  In still another
embodiment, the gears 230, 242, 244, 256 may be formed of acetyl, such as Delrin.RTM.  sold by Dupont, headquartered in Wilmington, Del.  Various combinations of these materials are also possible.


 The use of the reciprocating mechanism 200 to reciprocatingly rotate the drum assembly 220 is illustrated in FIGS. 8A-8E.  Actuation of the motor 254 preferably rotates the ring gear 230 in one direction via the drive gear 256 and, optionally, a
gear reduction assembly (see e.g., FIG. 2A) operatingly coupling the motor 254 to the drive gear 256.  Rotation of the ring gear 230 in turn rotates the reel drum 226 via the first endplate 222.  Rotation of the ring gear 230 also rotates the shaft 232
in the same direction, causing the worm gear section 242 to also rotate.  Rotation of the worm gear section 242 rotates the top or driven gear 244, which in turn rotates the lever 246 about the axis of the top gear 244.  As the lever 246 rotates, it
guides the first end 248a of the elongate member 248 about the axis of the top gear 244 and along the encircling slot 252 of the guide member 250, thus moving the elongate member back and forth.  As the lever 246 rotates and guides the first end 248a of
the elongate member 248 about the axis of the top gear 244, the first end 248a also slides along the slot 247 of the lever 246.  The movement of the elongate member 248 in turn reciprocatingly rotates the drum 226 relative to the upper ring 212 about the
shell axis Y via the pivot connection 234a, 258a between the shaft support 234 and the platform 258.  In one embodiment (e.g., if the slot 252 is circular), the reciprocating mechanism 200 reciprocatingly rotates the drum 226 so that an angular velocity
of the drum about the shell axis Y fluctuates generally sinusoidally.


 In a preferred embodiment, the slot 247 on the lever 246 and the encircling slot 252 on the guide member 250 allow the drum 226 to reciprocate about the shell axis Y at a generally constant angular velocity between endpoints of the reciprocation
for a given drum 226 rotation speed about the drum axis X. It is the general D-shape of the slot 252 that produces this outcome.  It will be appreciated that other sizes and shapes of the slot 252, slot 247, lever 246, and elongate member 248 can achieve
the goal of a generally constant angular velocity between endpoints of the reciprocation.


 In one embodiment, the upper shell portion 22, which is preferably fixed with respect to the upper ring 212, and the aperture guide 30 in the upper shell portion 22, remain in a fixed position while the drum 226 reciprocatingly rotates inside
the housing to spool and unspool the linear material 268, as shown in FIGS. 9A-9B.  In another embodiment, the reciprocating mechanism 200 reciprocatingly rotates the upper shell portion 22 about the shell axis Y, while the drum 226 is preferably in a
substantially fixed angular position.


 The substantially constant angular velocity of the drum 226 about the shell axis Y that is generated by the reciprocating mechanism 200 advantageously allows the spooling and unspooling of linear material onto the drum 226 with increased
efficiency.  Such increased efficiency allows the use of a drum 226 having a smaller width to spool the same amount of linear material, requires less power to spool the same amount of linear material, and allows for an overall reduction in the size of
the reel assembly 100.  The reciprocating mechanism 200 according the embodiments discussed above also advantageously require about 30% less parts to operate than conventional reciprocating mechanisms.


 FIG. 10 illustrates another embodiment of a reciprocating mechanism 200'.  The reciprocating mechanism 200' is similar to the reciprocating mechanism 200, except as noted below.  Thus, the reference numerals used to designate the various
components of the reciprocating mechanism 200' are identical to those used for identifying the corresponding components of the reciprocating mechanism 200 in FIG. 5, except that a "'" has been added to the reference numerals.


 The reciprocating mechanism 200' includes a top or driven gear coupled to a lever 246' via a pin 246a' that extends along the axis of the top gear.  The top gear and the lever 246' are preferably lockingly coupled, so that rotation of the top
gear about the top gear axis results in rotation of the lever 246' in the same direction.  In another embodiment, the top gear and the lever 246' can be integrally formed.  The lever 246' is preferably pivotably coupled to an elongate member 248' at a
first pivot point 248a'.  The elongate member 248' is also pivotably secured to a support member 238' at a second pivot point 248b'.  The relative motion between the lever 246' and the elongate member 248' advantageously generates a reciprocating motion
of the drum 226' about a drum axis.


 In a preferred embodiment, the gear ratio of the gear reduction and size of the ring gear 230, worm gear 242, drive gear 256, and top gear 244, as well as the lengths of the levers 246 and elongate member 248, are selected to reciprocatingly
rotate the drum 226 relative to the upper ring 212 about the shell axis Y so as to cause a linear material to be generally uniformly wound onto the reel drum.  Thus, the reciprocating mechanism 200 advantageously allows a linear material to be uniformly
wound onto the drum 226.


 As discussed above, the upper ring 212 and drum assembly 220 preferably rotate freely relative to the lower ring 214, preferably through 360 degrees and more, as desired.  Therefore, the upper shell portion 22 coupled to the upper ring 212 can
advantageously rotate freely relative to the lower shell portion 24, which is preferably fixed with respect to the lower ring 214.


 Of course, the foregoing description is that of certain features, aspects and advantages of the present invention, to which various changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. 
Moreover, the reciprocating mechanism for a reel assembly need not feature all of the objects, advantages, features and aspects discussed above.  Thus, for example, those skill in the art will recognize that the invention can be embodied or carried out
in a manner that achieves or optimizes one advantage or a group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other objects or advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.  In addition, while a number of variations of the invention
have been shown and described in detail, other modifications and methods of use, which are within the scope of this invention, will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art based upon this disclosure.  It is contemplated that various combinations
or subcombinations of these specific features and aspects of embodiments may be made and still fall within the scope of the invention.  Accordingly, it should be understood that various features and aspects of the disclosed embodiments can be combined
with or substituted for one another in order to form varying modes of the discussed reciprocating mechanism for a reel assembly.


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DOCUMENT INFO
Description: 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to reels for spooling linear material and, in particular, to a reel including an improved reciprocating mechanism for distributing linear material across a rotating reel drum. 2. Description of the Related Art Reels for spooling linear material, such as a hose or wire, onto a rotating drum have incorporated reciprocating motion of a guide through which the linear material passes, to advantageously cause the linear material to be wrapped substantiallyuniformly around most of the surface area of the drum. Several methods have been utilized in the past for achieving such reciprocating motion. One common approach is to use a rotating reversing screw which causes a guide to translate back and forth in front of a rotating drum. For example, such anapproach is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 2,494,003 to Russ. However, such reversing screws tend to wear out quickly, degrading reel performance and necessitating frequent replacement. Further, such reversing screws are bulky and increase the size of thereel assembly. Another approach for producing reciprocating motion of the guide is to use a motor to control a rotating screw upon which the guide translates. In this class of reels, the motor reverses the direction of rotation of the screw whenever the guidereaches an end of the screw. Unfortunately, the repeated reversing of the motor increases the spooling time and causes the motor to wear down sooner. Other reels have incorporated significantly more complicated gear mechanisms for achieving thereciprocating motion. Many reel constructions include exposed moving parts, such as the reel drum, guide, and motor. Over time, such moving parts can become damaged due to exposure. For example, an outdoor reel is exposed to sunlight and rain. Such exposure cancause the moving parts of the reel to wear more rapidly, resulting in reduced performance quality. Thus, there is a need for a compact reel assembly having a reel